Many people might be surprised to learn that there are many different types of psychotherapy or ‘talk’ therapy available to those seeking mental health treatment.
What is psychotherapy?
Psychotherapy is an effective mental health treatment consisting of several therapeutic interventions that seek to relieve behavioural, psychological, and sometimes physical conditions affecting an individual’s overall well-being.
Broadly, talk therapy usually occurs between a patient, psychotherapist, counsellor, psychiatrist, or licensed clinical social worker.
Psychotherapy aims to explore an individual’s thoughts, emotions, perceptions, and behaviours and adopt a series of techniques to improve a patient’s quality of life.
What are the different types of therapy?
When therapists set out to treat mental disorders, several therapy components get considered.
To address problematic behaviours, a therapist will first consider what type of therapy the client will benefit from having; such treatments may involve:
Group therapy usually involves one or two mental health practitioners facilitating a therapy session of around two to fifteen patients.
Typically, the patients have shared emotional issues or similar mental health disorders.
Group therapy allows patients to learn healthier coping mechanisms and learn helpful strategies to manage emotional issues from therapists and other patients within the support group.
Family therapy involves cultivating healthy interactions between family members.
Studies show that family therapy can benefit families who have suffered a bereavement or loss of another member, or in the instance where a parent, sibling, etc., may require additional support and care because of illness.
This type of therapy encourages a healthy dynamic between family members by cultivating understanding and communication.
One-to-one counselling involves sessions between patient and therapist where emotional issues get discussed, and specific mental disorders are addressed and treated.
Often referred to as couples therapy, marital therapy is a supportive therapy that helps partners, spouses, and couples hash out any conflict within their relationship in a healthy, constructive manner.
Marital therapy seeks to improve communication between partners by enhancing specific techniques to strengthen the relationship.
What are the different types of psychotherapy?
Depending on the type of symptoms and mental health conditions people present with, mental health professionals will consider a range of treatment approaches and different kinds of therapy to help target these unique issues.
The American Psychological Association groups these treatment methodologies into five broad categories:
#1. Behavioral therapy
Behavioural therapy involves several strategies and techniques which focus on addressing problematic issues such as self-destructive thoughts, perceptions, and behavioural patterns.
Many people with substance abuse issues, process addictions, and anxiety disorders benefit significantly from behavioural therapy.
Since this type of therapy is problem-focused, it seeks to cultivate a healthier approach to emotional problems and past conditioning to help change unhealthy behaviours.
#2. Psychodynamic therapy
Psychodynamic therapy is a ‘talk’ therapy that explores unconscious meanings, motivations, and behaviours and examines the motive behind specific thoughts and actions.
This type of therapy often uses the therapeutic association between patient and therapist as a platform to explore and change any unhelpful thinking patterns, behaviours, and perceptions.
#3. Humanistic therapy
The humanistic approach seeks to help patients focus on their potential and aims to provide a nurturing environment enabling them to move towards self-actualization.
Humanistic therapy involves supporting the patient in their search for meaning and context and offering the appropriate platform for them to explore the self and thus gain a better sense of who they are as a unique individual.
#4. Cognitive therapy
Nowadays, cognitive therapy is one of the most popular therapies due to its effectiveness and ability to treat many mental health disorders.
Cognitive therapy seeks to change destructive patterns of thinking that may disrupt a person’s behaviour.
The cognitive approach upholds the belief that behaviour is positively influenced by changing dysfunctional ways of thinking. Thus, individuals can change how they think, feel, and act (for the better).
Cognitive-behavioural therapy is one of the most common therapies within the behavioural therapeutic model. It is effective when treating addiction, anxiety, depression, and a range of anxiety and mental disorders.
#5. Integrative therapy
This type of therapy integrates a range of psychotherapeutic models such as the ones mentioned above.
Mental health professionals want the best possible outcome for patients and often draw on the modalities from various disciplines to ensure people get the best mental health treatment.
The above can involve integrating different therapeutic approaches and customizing them to treat mental health conditions and problematic behaviours, such as eating disorders, borderline personality disorder, etc.
Other therapies may include:
- Dialectical behavior therapy
- Existential therapy
- Gestalt therapy
- Client-centered therapy
- Holistic therapy
- Animal-assisted therapy
What are the benefits of psychotherapy?
Psychotherapy is one of the most common forms of therapy and is renowned for cultivating mental well-being and psychological health.
Many patients choose psychotherapy to help them resolve conflicts, manage dysfunctional thinking and behaviour patterns, by learning to respond to external situations in healthy ways.
Some of the benefits associated with psychotherapy include:
- Psychotherapy helps to improve relationships in all contexts, whether peer, family, personal relationships, and the relationship with the self.
- As well as addressing maladaptive behaviors and mental disorders, psychotherapy allows people to view the world in a less harmful way, enabling the patients to view significant life events or past traumas in a more objective manner.
- Studies show that psychotherapy treatment has become just as effective as medications for mental health conditions such as anxiety and depression.
What kind of mental health disorders does psychotherapy treat?
Psychotherapy effectively treats several mental health disorders, often combined with specific medications or as a stand-alone treatment.
Moreover, psychotherapy is an effective treatment for managing and improving symptoms for a range of mental health disorders, such as:
As well as treating mental illness, psychotherapy is also beneficial for those hoping to improve in areas such as personal growth, self-esteem, and relationships.
Reasons to consider therapy
We all get down on occasion, but if you feel as though most of your daily life is preoccupied with feelings of despair, hopelessness, and sorrow, psychotherapy is an advisable option for improving your emotional well-being.
Telltale signs of mental illness
There are certain instances where therapy is highly advisable for the sake of your welfare; such circumstances include:
- When you find yourself engaging in unhealthy behaviors such as excessive drinking, drug-taking, or any other dangerous behaviors to feel better or to numb distress.
- When you find it challenging to concentrate on specific tasks at work or everyday activities.
- You feel constantly sad or helpless.
- Your emotional issues seem to persist regardless of the support offered by family and friends.
- You are going through a significantly stressful period, such as a bereavement, break-up, career transition, or other stressors.
- You experience persistent sleep issues, such as insomnia or the urge to sleep during the day.
How to find a suitable therapist
Finding a suitable therapist is one of the most important decisions you’ll ever make for your mental health. Therefore it’s important to know what to look for when searching for the proper mental health professional.
The right therapist
Several crucial factors people must consider when searching for a therapist include:
- The therapist’s credentials and experience – do they specialize in the type of issues you would like to address?
- What are your goals for therapy?
- How will you manage dissatisfaction if issues between yourself and your therapist crop up?
- What kind of metrics should you adopt to measure the progress of therapy?
- How long do you hope/expect to be in therapy?
- What type of therapy do you need for the mental health issues you would like to address, i.e., cognitive, psychodynamic treatment, etc.
The first appointment
Once you have found a list of suitable therapists, whether online or in a therapist directory, you may want to have a preliminary discussion with them over the phone about your expectations and requirements.
Such a process can help you get a feel for the type of licensed professional counsellor you are speaking to and whether their specialized training and overall therapeutic style match your expectations.
It may also be an excellent time to ask the therapist any questions about pricing, location, duration, and amount of therapy sessions required.
Remember, this is your process, and it’s vital that you are comfortable with the decisions you make since the type of therapist you choose will ultimately be joining you on that journey.
If you think you may benefit from counselling or any other mental health treatment, then get in touch with one of our specialists today to advise you on the next steps.